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Giving God a gift..

Over the last week or so I have been doing Bible journaling. When I first heard about this idea.. I have to admit I did not get it. Why would I do art on the pages of a Bible.. it almost seemed wrong.  Yet.. I was intrigued by the idea since I enjoy journaling and have been working on various art journals for the last couple of years. My daughter.. knowing nothing about this.. gave me a journaling Bible for my birthday two weeks ago. OK.. it was time to push past whatever was holding me back.

I started watching videos on Bible journaling and saw examples of how people were doing it.. I decided to step out and try it.. doing a few things on the first page of the book of Hebrews.. a book I am studying right now. It was interesting but I was afraid of ruining the pages.. then I learned about gesso and ordered some. It coats the page so you can use watercolors and other things without totally ruining the other side.. Loved that idea and tried doing a couple of other pages. I was happy with the results and wondered why I was suddenly eager to do more.

Well.. this morning after I woke up I had a realization. As I was working on the pages of the Bible..decorating and creating art.. I was responding to God’s word in a new way. My art was a form of worship. For almost 40 years the Bible has been a huge part of my life.. I have read it over and over and there are so many passages that God has used to comfort and encourage me.. Now I am giving something to Him.. I am responding to His love letter with color and shapes and words that express my love for Him..It was a surprising revelation that I want to share with everyone!

We have a God who created the heavens and the earth and He made everything beautiful.. for us. He made us in His image..we have creation all around us and we were made to create! When we create, we touch the heart of God..we join forces with the Holy Spirit to bring something beautiful into the world.. it is a powerful experience. Creativity is a part of the human experience.. it slows us down and draws us away from the madness of this world. I hope you can find an outlet for your creativity and that it will become a refuge from the busyness and the noise that surrounds us.

“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good”

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” He is in the delays”…

Here we are again.. can you believe it? Just two more days before 2015 is over. This is a time for looking back and for looking ahead. God gives us this window of time to reflect after the busyness of Christmas and before the beginning of 2016.. For me it is a little more intense than I would like since my birthday is New Years Eve. I literally start a new year of my life when January 1st rolls around. I am reminded of how fast time passes and how long I have lived. When you are young it is easy to look ahead with some excitement.. as you age it is a little scary. My body is wearing out and I am fighting to stay healthy and strong. My grandchildren are growing up and I want to be here as long as I can to see them as adults and hopefully to see their children.

As I look back on 2015 I see moments of great faith and moments of failure. I remember the days when I felt like He was so close I could touch him and I remember the days when I wondered if He even knew I existed. Yet I know that God made me the way I am.. He knows my pain and He appears in the middle of my brokenness to remind me of His sovereignty over my life. I imagine that you can relate to my struggles and I want to encourage you..to remind you that God knows our hearts.. He knows what makes us dance for joy and what breaks our hearts into a million pieces.

Looking back I see things that I am grateful for.. ways that God has moved to change me  and to guide me into a deeper place with Him. I see healing in my life and in the lives of those around me. Some of us received gifts that we were waiting for and some of us are still waiting. This morning as I visited with a friend and saw how God was giving her a wonderful blessing that she had been longing for I was struck with a thought that I knew was from Him. He said ” I am in the delays”.. when we wait and pray and hope.. He is in that season with us. We are not forgotten or set aside. He keeps our desires close to His heart and at the right time He delights in surprising us with the very thing we hoped for.

So.. let us enter this new year with confidence in the Living God…our Creator and our Provider. Our hearts can rest in His presence trusting that He will come for us.. He will rescue us.. He will heal us and He will shower us with blessings in 2016.

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Letting go is not giving up…

This  sentence that has been floating around my mind for the last week. I am surprised at how much I say this to people and how important it is for us to understand. When we let go of something or someone to the Lord, we are not giving up on that desire or that person. We are also not hanging on.. it is a bit of a balancing act.

What happens is we release our desires, longings and unfulfilled dreams into our Creator’s hands. We tell Him that we are trusting Him and that we know that we cannot make these things happen on our own. We are actually giving them to Him for safe keeping and if they are for our best..He will bring them back to us. It is an act of Faith..and Trust.

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The problem we have is we believe  this means we are giving up.. throwing in the towel.. We try to kill our hearts where these desires and longings live. We pretend that we don’t care..we say that it does not matter. The truth is they do matter and we do care.. there is nothing wrong with that picture.. with those emotions.

Our God is in the business of fulfilling desires and longings.. He is the giver of all good gifts and the one who cherishes the deep things that we have in our hearts. This does not mean that everything we desire will happen or that all our dreams will come true.. but it does mean that we can trust Him to decide ..to choose the best road for our lives.. to unfold the perfect plan step by step.

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So if you have unfulfilled desires and dreams.. and who doesn’t? Together we can go to God and tell Him about them and ask Him for His very best for us.. once this done I know we will find ourselves in a place of rest and peace..We may need to do this over and over…to do it as often as we need to until it becomes a habit.. we will never regret it. He is for us and many of the things that we long for are exactly what He has in mind!

“Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (psalm 37:4)

 

Remembering His Goodness..

We had a church retreat this weekend and if I could give it a name.. it would be the title of this post..”Remembering His Goodness.” That is the theme that I kept hearing in the stories the speakers shared with us. They were actually speaking on the hard times in life and how we need to learn to accept them as normal and be able to reach out to those around us when they reveal their struggles to us. A great topic in these times where there is so much fear and anxiety in everyday life.

The key for me was hearing this theme as we read through the psalms and discussed the issues they presented. Our Creator God is good, He is faithful and available in all circumstances. He is larger than our circumstances.. bigger than our fears..sovereign over everything that happens to us in this life. He is our refuge and our rock.. We are always able to cry out to Him… to rely on Him and lean into Him. Although His ways are not our ways.. we can trust Him to bring deliverance when we need it and to rescue us before it is too late!

Our part is to remember this and to act on it.. to nurture the relationship.. to remember Him and His promises… to dwell on His faithfulness and to count on Him when the darkness comes. We are in a battle and our faith is constantly being challenged by the trials and tests that we face..but He is there with us.. We are not alone. This is our road.. we signed up for it when we committed to follow Him and He will carry us when we cannot walk another step.

“I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
    Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.”   (psalm 27:13-14)

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He is doing a new thing..

I believe that this is always true of God. He is always doing a new thing and never runs out of ideas:) The problem is that at times we get stuck. We may feel as though nothing new can ever happen or that we are forgotten or possibly we believe that the past is being repeated in the present. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Spring is the time when we are reminded of this. Every year new things spring  up from the ground.. trees are suddenly filled with lush green leaves. The light coming in the window is at a new angle. The old brown leaves that covered the ground are gone..suddenly replaced by lush green meadows and the tiny blossoms of wildflowers. The earth is being renewed by its Creator God. He has taken out his paintbrush and painted the most beautiful watercolor we have ever seen.. it takes our breath away.

Every spring I am surprised by the Lord..totally amazed at His creativity.. so inspiring. His personal reminder that He  is at work in our world and that He is doing a new thing around us and of course in us.

“For I am about to do something new.
    See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
    I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”    (Isaiah 43:19)

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And then He brought the rain..

We got a good dose of God’s blessing of rain this month.. after a long dry spell..the colors of His palette are everywhere. I have been walking over the last week.. easy to do when the sun is shining every day. You never know what new things are just around the corner and I am continually encouraged by the Lord that He is in control and everything is moving ahead exactly the way He has planned it.

My heart is feeling full of hope as we move toward Spring and I know that it is because He has answered the cry of my heart to be renewed and granted more faith in this season. I see the way He is weaving my life experiences together..nothing is random. Isn’t that reassuring? We are part of a larger story..one that we can’t full comprehend, but He gives us glimpses. One thing leads to another and suddenly we are filled with joy.. God is doing things with us and through us.

I want to leave you encouraged today.. filled with anticipation..hopeful and renewed in your faith. I can’t do all that, but the Lord can and He will.. He is ready to meet us and to fill us with His living water.. I took some pictures on one of my walks to share with you…glimpses of Spring and all the good things that are yet to come..

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Here is the scripture that God gave me for this year.. I am art journaling these days..I recommend it.. as a way of responding to the Lord and remembering His words to us.

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February 2015

What happened to January? Well.. for me January was not the start I hoped for in this new year. My husband was sick for many weeks and a neighbor died rather suddenly of cancer. The weather was extremely dry after having so much wonderful rain in December. There is our continuing challenge as well..we are moving toward 2 years of unemployment for my husband. I don’t know about you, but every year I hope for a good beginning and get disappointed when that does not happen. This year was no exception.

In the midst of the difficulties.. I have seen God working in me and through me. I was able to minister to my neighbor’s wife because of the loss I suffered 15 years ago when I was widowed… I hope to continue to support her as she adjusts to a totally new life. God does not waste our suffering. I think the biggest learning curve for me is realizing the importance of leaning on the Lord. There is not a day that I don’t feel the need for more of Him and not an evening when I don’t realize that without Him I cannot carry on. A great lesson in humility and absolute dependency.

Two things have helped me during this season.. one is being part of an amazing church. It is amazing because the pastor teaches the Bible so well.. our current study is on the book of Isaiah and it is rich with lessons that we need in our times. God is speaking truth to his people through his servant Isaiah. So many wonderful  metaphors and prophecies. The second thing has been the discovery of a website called ” My Kingdom Come.” There is a great weekly study ” Take Me Deeper.” The site is filled with ideas for art journaling, photography, mixed media etc. A group called Logos365 is a wonderful opportunity to seek the Lord for a word and keep it in front of you.. for 2015.

Here is a link to the site:

http://his-kingdom-come.com/

I mention these things but I suspect you are struggling too. I pray that you will find those resources that God has for you as you trust Him and explore ways to dig deeper and move closer to His heart.

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”     (Isaiah 43:2)

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Longing for rest..

I’m focusing again on my word for this year ” Rest.”  It is elusive.. hard to truly find in this world. When I think about resting, I envision a place where there is no pressure.. or stress and lots of time that is not filled with responsibilities.  Definitely not life on earth, is it? No, while we are here we will have trouble.. that is what the Lord has said and He said it for a reason. We cannot escape the pressures of this life.. when one lets up another seems to take its place.

For me, I just want a season where it is less intense..some space to recover from all the changes of the last decade. I am asking God for this and hoping that He agrees. Meanwhile I am taking a couple of weeks to reflect on my life.. a practice that I totally believe in. It is helpful to look back and see what has happened..especially when you are weary. Instead of feeling condemned for feeling tired and worn out.. I can have grace for myself. It is absolutely OK to need ” rest.” I know this is counter intuitive when it comes to our busy culture. but God invented rest and rested Himself. It must be important.

So I am learning to ” rest” outwardly and inwardly. To trust God when I am too exhausted to accomplish anything.. to contribute..to make a difference. He understands my limitations and all the pressure comes from my own expectations.. not from His heart.

“And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.”

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A fresh wind is blowing

About 37 years ago I was called out of the darkness into the light. God revealed Himself to me and I have followed after Him for over three decades. Recently God reminded me of my commitment to Him.. to stay on the path He has prepared for me and to trust Him with everything.. not because I forgot, but because the pull of the world is strong. It is easy to want those things the world says we must have to be content.. so easy to be distracted by the things that pull us away from Him.

I needed the reminder..to be called to a walk in a deeper level of faith.. to admit that I was double minded. He chose me to come into a relationship with Him and I owe Him everything. All the good things in my life come from the hand of the Lord and all the trials passed through Him before they reached me. My life is in His hands and it is His right to give and to take away.. He is the one who knows what is best for me. I want to finish this life with the same level of faith I had over 30 years ago.. trusting in this mysterious God who came close to me and made Himself known to me.

I need to be convicted of wanting things to be easy and wanting to be comfortable.. He never promised me that. He did promise to be with me and to hear my prayers and to come for me when I need to be rescued.. that is more than enough.

Thank you Lord for the fresh wind that blows through our lives.. reminding us of your presence. Thank you for loving us enough to show us when we wander away and long for things that are not important. Thank you that this life is a gift from you and since we belong to you, we want to honor you by being willing to follow you fully… trusting you to take care of us and provide for us.

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What happened to summer?

I can’t believe we are in the middle of August already..summer seemed to fly by. Our weather has been surprisingly cool.. Fall seems to be here already. I remember when summers lasted forever..all that has changed. We are busy people with so much to do.. we fill up most of our days with responsibilities and activities. There is a down side to this busyness..we can miss out on the moment. Instead of living fully each day..we rush through life..eager to get to the next thing and then the next thing and after that the next thing. Why are we in such a hurry?

A lot of it is our instant culture. We want everything now and we don’t want to wait.. I find myself the same way. Time can become an enemy and not a friend. Yet life with God is not fast..He is not in time the way we are, so He is never in a hurry. Our lives are not going to be too short for the things that God has prepared for us.. there is no need to fit everything in. It would probably benefit most of us to stop..so we can reflect on what we are doing and how we are spending our time in this life. We won’t be encouraged to this.. either inside or outside the church. There is just so much to do.. For God. Really?

We are here because He created us and gave us life to fulfill His purposes.. not to accomplish things. That accomplishment thing comes from us.. He wants us to receive His love and to love those around us.. to live life fully each day confident that everything that is supposed to happen will happen. When we make mistakes.. He will redeem them. When we choose to be still.. He will find someone else to do what we cannot do.. He has it all under control.

For me.. telling God daily that I trust Him helps tremendously. When I look around and see so many things I cannot change.. I remind myself that He has a plan and it is unfolding perfectly. When my emotions get the best of me I cry out to Him and let Him see the mess that I am. I make sure there is time in my day for these things even if all the work does not get done!

So.. enjoy the rest of the summer season and know that life is meant to be savored..relax and rest whenever possible. Trust Him with everything.

“Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture”  (psalm 100:3)

 

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